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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

“Joyful Desserts” Brings A Sweet End to Black History Month

Students were invited to indulge in sweet potato pie prepared by Theresa Holifield, kitchen supervisor of The Union Sports Annex
Photo by Katie Craig
The participants were instructed on how to make two of their own desserts.

Marquette’s Innovation Kitchen and Center for Engagement and Inclusion partnered together on Feb. 28 to have a sweet ending to Marquette’s Black History Month events through “Joyful Desserts.” 

Students were invited to indulge in sweet potato pie prepared by Theresa Holifield, kitchen supervisor of The Union Sports Annex. They were also given ingredients and instructions on how to prepare their banana pudding to take home in mason jars. 

Alecia Conway, the program coordinator for cultural engagement and inclusion, said that CEI partnered with Innovation Kitchen to host this event because it ends the month on a joyful note.

“A lot of times when we think about this great month there’s a lot of conversation about the transatlantic slave trade, Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement and not really focusing on how joy came to be then and now,” Conway said. 

Conway said that the main theme that Black History Month events centered around this year was showing joy towards Black staff members on campus as well as understanding the “Joy of Blackness” in the United States.

Holifield said she has been cooking for over 25 years, and that every cook has their own different ways that they prepare these two recipes.

While students indulged in the sweet potato pie, a video detailing the process of making sweet potato pie played on TV screens in the background for students to learn how the pie was made and that it was culturally significant because it is a dessert many families enjoy for holidays like Thanksgiving.

Conway said banana pudding and sweet potato pie are two desserts that are historically and culturally known in the Black Community. 

Conway said that sweet potato pie was originally a mix of sweet potatoes, molasses and spices known as sweet potato pound and is very similar to Native American dessert fried bread. The desserts have evolved over time due to resources becoming available. During the Great Migration, many people who moved out of the Deep South into northern cities like Chicago and Detroit took their family recipes with them.

After the video was over the students shifted to the ingredients in front of them to make banana pudding.

“Yams originated in West Africa while sweet potatoes [one of the ingredients used] were brought over by the Spanish traders around 1600,” Conway said. 

Conway said that bananas are also a native fruit to Africa and that their existence can be traced all the way back to the year 650. 

“These are a few fun facts about the historical context of bananas and sweet potatoes in the past with the intention for you to learn, but also to get a better understanding of the desserts we enjoy,” Conway said. 

Olivia Wang, a senior in the College of Health Sciences said she frequently attends Innovation Kitchen events and has learned a lot from this one in particular.

“I think events like these are important because food brings people together,” Wang said. “Especially that it’s a big connecting point with family traditions.”

Wang said that since food is the center of many cultures, it helps create an environment to learn.

This story was written by Ellie Golko. She can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Ellie Golko
Ellie Golko is a first-year student from Crystal Lake, Illinois studying journalism at the university and is a news reporter for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 school year. This is Ellie's first position on the Wire, and she is thrilled to start her journey here. Outside of the Wire Ellie is involved in the Comet project here at Marquette. She also enjoys coffee, watching movies, and traveling.
Katie Craig
Katie Craig, Staff Photographer
Katie is a Staff Photographer at the Wire. She is a first-year from Lakeville, MN studying digital media and minoring in advertising. In her free time, Katie enjoys photography and hanging out with her friends. This year Katie is looking forward to getting to know more people and improving her photography skills.

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